Newswise – COLUMBUS, Ohio – Exercise during pregnancy doesn’t just benefit mothers – it can also give their babies a head start on heart health after birth, according to a study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

In a mouse study, researchers found that the heart health of offspring after birth was better when their mothers exercised during pregnancy. The study also found that exercise outweighs the heart health risks posed by a high-fat diet, but only in female offspring and not in men. The study was published on Monday in Molecular metabolism.

“To date, the effects of maternal exercise on offspring heart health have not been thoroughly studied. “Our results provide insights into ways to prevent the transmission of cardiovascular disease to future generations,” he said Kristin Stanford, PhD, who led the study. She is a researcher in Department of Surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and deputy director of theDorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute.

Researchers fed female mice a normal or high-fat diet before pregnancy and until the offspring were weaned. The adult mice were divided into two groups: inactive and active. The offspring were then kept in a sedentary state and fed regularly until they were 24 weeks old, which is around mid-30s for a human. The results showed reduced ejection fraction, or how well the heart pumps blood, in offspring of mothers who ate a high-fat diet instead of a normal diet. Female offspring of mothers who ate a high-fat diet and exercised did not have reduced ejection fraction at eight, 12, and 24 weeks of age. Researchers are studying why exercise negates the effects of poor nutrition only in female offspring and not in men.

“Obesity rates continue to rise in the United States and it is important to find ways to combat this increase. Our research shows that exercise during pregnancy is good for mothers and their offspring. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise; The key is to be active,” Stanford said.

In previous studies led by Stanford, researchers found that maternal and paternal exercise improves the metabolic health of offspring and that moderate exercise during pregnancy increases a substance in breast milk that increases a baby’s lifetime risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity and Heart disease reduced. The next step in this research is to determine whether changes in the gut microbiome are linked to how maternal exercise negates the effects on offspring heart health. This research is part of a $4.3 million grant from the American Heart Association.


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